Belfast Telegraph

Visa row shows why Brexit is so complex

Editor's Viewpoint

The case of Ciaran Doole, the Northern Ireland man whose Japanese fiancee has been refused permission to come to the province to get married and live here, raises intriguing questions about identity.

This case is going to the High Court today in an effort to overturn the Home Office's ruling. It would not be proper to comment on the particular merits of the case or attempt to prejudge it. But it is certainly an issue which will be an eye-opener for many people and which could have even greater implications in the future.

Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement all 1.8m people resident in Northern Ireland are entitled to hold an Irish passport.

Since the UK voted to leave the EU an increasing number of people living in all regions have applied for an Irish passport. In the first three months of this year 51,000 applications were made by UK residents. Last year 733,000 Irish passports were issued, 65,000 of them to Britons.

A significant number of those successful applications are believed to be from people living in Northern Ireland and other parts of the UK who see an Irish passport as guaranteeing them continued EU membership after Brexit. A measure which was originally drafted to reflect the differing national identity inclination of the two communities in Northern Ireland has taken on an additional meaning.

But what seemed a fairly straightforward interpretation of the value of an Irish passport has now been thrown into confusion by this latest Home Office ruling. Although Mr Doole has lived all his life in Northern Ireland and his parents are from here, the Home Office regards him as an Irish national who is working in the UK and argued that the couple have not established that he is settled in the UK.

It would appear, therefore, that holding an Irish passport diminishes one's Britishness in the eyes of the Home Office.

But it will take more than dual nationality to sort out the complexities of Brexit and its implications for business on this island. A leaked document from the Irish Revenue Commissioners says a completely open customs border is not possible; the Revenue will need many more staff and businesses will be loaded with much more bureaucracy.

Brexit becomes a more complex puzzle to solve as every day goes by. Each possible solution to the problems raised seem to create another problem.

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